ADHD and Family Separation

ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER with HYPERACTIVITY – its Effect on Family and Separation

All too often, we read about difficult or explosive children at school, at home, or with their friends.  We also read about dysfunctional family separations.  What role does ADHD play in family dynamics?

Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity or ADHD, is most common in school-aged boys, however, school-aged girls and some adults may continue to struggle.  There are three main characteristics, namely: inattentiveness, impulsivity and hyperactivity, associated with low self-esteem.  Active young boys often seek attention from male teachers and coaches who are frequently their only male role models.  Typically, very few male teachers teach primary school grades leaving agitated boys with an over-abundance of female influence.  In sports, ADHD children with inattentiveness may have unique focusing abilities.  ADHD boys are often goalies in hockey and soccer requiring short-term concentration, (hyper-focusing), leading quickly to a wandering mind, (hypo-focusing).  Musically inclined boys seek comfort in drumming.  The repetitive tapping or banging, and its requirement to stay on task, acts as a calming exercise while improving concentration, hand-eye coordination and reduced energy levels.

Girls often daydream and lack the hyperactivity associated with boys but also lack the concentration required while at school.  As these boys and girls mature, they begin to avoid areas of life where they lack confidence and self-esteem; however, they do develop an improved ability to concentrate and stay focused.  Impulsivity tends to influence their short and long-term decision-making processes, which affects friendships, behaviour at school, organizational abilities, capacity to manage irritability and moodiness, and generally the ability to cope with problems without exploding verbally or physically.

Hyperactivity often calms during their teenage years.  Common to many children with ADHD are attributes of anxiety, hypersensitivity and extreme opposition.  In adults, many ADHD triggers persist from childhood.  Adults with ADHD may function at very high levels of performance while being dysfunctional in other areas of life where self-esteem is lacking.  It is common for adults to exhibit anxiety, depression, manic episodes, extreme opposition, abusive behaviour or total withdrawal, in order to ease their individual pain and negative thoughts.  Marital relationships often continue in this adversarial manner.  Adults often experience restlessness, excitability, and aggressive speech and actions, exhibiting excessive control over their partner and family members.

Stephen Rosenfield helps separating partners draft Parenting Plans as part of Separation Agreements.  Family entities, which co-exist with ADHD, Depression, or Bipolar Disorder, require Parenting Plans geared to the individual dynamics of that particular family.  The occurrence of marital breakdown greatly increases when ADHD children push their parents beyond their individual breaking point.  ADHD children usually have one or more parents with similar behavioural characteristics.  Often, these parents cannot cope with family pressures and begin to assume controlling behaviour, become frustrated and abusive, or withdraw completely from the marital relationship.  Ongoing disputes occur between separating parents, either emotionally and / or financially.  In these situations, the childrens’ requirements need professional evaluation in order to help reduce family tensions and ongoing individual anxieties.

Stephen Rosenfield’s Family Mediation Practice at Rosenfield Mediation Ltd. includes drafting Parenting Plans, Contact and Scheduling Issues, Day to Day Family Conflict Resolution, Family Assessments, Counselling individuals who have one or more family members with emotional disorders, Financial Budgeting and Mediation, Arbitration Services and drafting Separation Agreements.  Stephen Rosenfield is sensitive to the difficulties experienced by children going through the Separation and Divorce process and helps parents focus on the individual and collective needs of their children.  Often, couples or individuals experiencing family emotional disorders require Parenting Plans specifically listing each parent’s responsibilities, in very specific ways.  All draft Agreements and Financial Statements are forwarded to counsel for legal advice and final approval prior to the execution of the Separation Agreement.


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